Nicholas Smith, one of the stars of the key British sitcom “Are You Being Served?,” which was set in a department store, died on Sunday. He was 81 and had been in hospitalized for seven weeks following a fall at home.
The long-running show, which aired on BBC1 from 1972-85, followed the misadventures of the staff and customers (the latter portrayed by popular British actors in guest appearances, such as Joanna Lumley), of the clothing floor departments of the fictional London department store Grace Brothers.
The jug-eared Smith played department store manager Cuthbert Rumbold in the hit sitcom, which also starred John Inman, Molly Sugden, Frank Thornton and Wendy Richard, and frequently drew audiences of more than 20 million. The show aired in the U.S. on PBS and BBC America.
More recently, he voiced the eccentric Reverend Clement Hedges in the 2005 Wallace & Gromit film “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”
His TV credits also included “Doctor Who,” “The Frost Report,” “The Saint” and “The Avengers.” He recurred as PC Yates on the BBC’s police series “Z Cars” in 1972-75. He did an 18-month stint on the radio, playing music and reading poems in the show “Poetry Corner.”
Smith said that when he was given the script for “Are You Being Served?” he realized he was playing someone who “was a complete idiot.”
Born in Banstead, Surrey, Smith studied singing and trained as an actor at RADA.
Survivors include his daughter, actress Catherine Russell, who plays Serena Campbell in long-running BBC medical drama “Holby City.”